The Electric Vehicle: Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age

The Electric Vehicle: Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age

by Gijs Mom
     
 

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Although the history of the electric car dates back as early as the first gasoline powered vehicles, there has been little concentration on its development and its failure to achieve the dominance over internal combustion expected by many of its early developers. Basing his work on the observation that one cannot separate technology and culture, Mom (history of

Overview

Although the history of the electric car dates back as early as the first gasoline powered vehicles, there has been little concentration on its development and its failure to achieve the dominance over internal combustion expected by many of its early developers. Basing his work on the observation that one cannot separate technology and culture, Mom (history of technology, Technical U. of Eindhoven, the Netherlands) explores this and related questions in Europe and the United States through the history of the "horseless carriage," concentrating on the period from 1880 to 1925. Mom finds that explanations of electric cars' technological inferiority fail to account for its failure to become the dominant vehicle. Instead, he proposes a "Pluto effect" that allowed manufacturers of gasoline cars to adopt structural properties of the electric car to their advantage. Annotation © 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Editorial Reviews

Choice
Those interested in the history of automotive technology should read—and will enjoy—this book.

Technology and Culture - Rudi Volti
An impressive work that couples theoretical sophistication with extensive use of American, Dutch, English, French, and German sources... Surely deserves a place on the bookshelf of automotive historians and anyone interested in why we get the technologies that we do.

Enterprise and Society - Zachary M. Schrag
Mom has mined the archives of several countries, uncovering manuscript and published sources in four languages, to produce a model comparative history. His main focus is the United States and Germany, but he follows electric vehicles to Britain, France, and the Netherlands, with side trips to other European countries. The result is a stunning compilation of examples and figures, ranging from Chicago to Berlin and from race cars to milk trucks.

Business History Review - Michael Brian Schiffer
A stunning triumph of creative and sophisticated scholarship... Mom's prescription—that technological change be studied holistically—is a potent antidote to the poisonous extremes of technological, economic, and sociocultural determinism.

EH.Net - Staffan Hulten
An impressive empirical study.

American Historical Review - David E. Nye
The research is exhaustive... He shows how competition between the electric and the gasoline car involved much more than the vehicles themselves, and he helps us understand the electric vehicle as the center of an alternative system. This has future implications... The electric car's 'failure' was not technical but cultural.

Up - Sandro Mendonca
This book is more than just a single case study where present-day technology was around 100 years ago. This book reveals how History is full of possibilities. The challenge is not to learn the lessen too late.

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - David K. Nergaard
An interesting study of road based transportation in the early years, with a good deal of insight into the electric car market through most of the century.

Enterprise and Society
Mom has mined the archives of several countries, uncovering manuscript and published sources in four languages, to produce a model comparative history. His main focus is the United States and Germany, but he follows electric vehicles to Britain, France, and the Netherlands, with side trips to other European countries. The result is a stunning compilation of examples and figures, ranging from Chicago to Berlin and from race cars to milk trucks.

— Zachary M. Schrag

Michigan Historical Review
Mom provides a clear argument that demands consideration from historians of technology as well as policymakers.

EH.Net
An impressive empirical study.

— Staffan Hulten

Up
This book is more than just a single case study where present-day technology was around 100 years ago. This book reveals how History is full of possibilities. The challenge is not to learn the lessen too late.

— Sandro Mendonca

Technology and Culture
An impressive work that couples theoretical sophistication with extensive use of American, Dutch, English, French, and German sources... Surely deserves a place on the bookshelf of automotive historians and anyone interested in why we get the technologies that we do.

— Rudi Volti

Business History Review
A stunning triumph of creative and sophisticated scholarship... Mom's prescription—that technological change be studied holistically—is a potent antidote to the poisonous extremes of technological, economic, and sociocultural determinism.

— Michael Brian Schiffer

American Historical Review
The research is exhaustive... He shows how competition between the electric and the gasoline car involved much more than the vehicles themselves, and he helps us understand the electric vehicle as the center of an alternative system. This has future implications... The electric car's 'failure' was not technical but cultural.

— David E. Nye

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine
An interesting study of road based transportation in the early years, with a good deal of insight into the electric car market through most of the century.

— David K. Nergaard

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801871382
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
440
Product dimensions:
7.30(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Bruce E. Seely
The Electric Vehicle makes an important contribution to the scholarship on the history of the automobile. The author has managed to develop one of the most wide-ranging comparative examinations of a particular technological system since Hughes' Networks of Power. Mom's scholarship is impeccable.

Clay McShane
Crossing disciplines, combining technical, economic and social concerns, and adopting an international perspective, The Electric Vehicle is a very important book that sets a new standard for research in the history of technology.

Meet the Author

Gijs Mom is an associate professor in the history of technology at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

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